My son is in 10 year old soccer and is a victim of change. His youth soccer program has adopted a new format for his age group. Last year, when he was nine, he played on a larger 9vs9 field. This year at 10 he is now playing on the smaller 6vs6 field.
As occurs with any change, I have heard grumbling from parents that this a step backward and I must admit, at first, I felt the same. After watching the additional touches this smaller format provides, my mind is changed. The smaller 6vs6 format allows more ball touches and increased skill. It requires faster reaction time, better vision and more skill.
Daniel Coyle , author of The Talent Code, has a great summary of the use of the sport Futsol, played in Europe and Brazil, that takes advantage of a small format game to develop soccer skills.